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Boreal Community Media

Miracles happen, but don't bet your best friend's life on one

Mar 10, 2021 06:02AM ● By Editor
A missing dog poster at the entrance to the Lutsen MN Dog Park for Rowdi - the yellow lab that went missing in the Tofte Area in mid-February.  Photo: Boreal Community Media

Editor's note: The third in our exclusive series to educate the public on the joys, challenges and responsibilities of pet ownership in the wilderness. From Boreal Community Media - March 10, 2021

The story of Rowdi - the yellow lab who went missing in mid-February has many people across Cook County on the edge of their seats.  Some are searching in the woods, others are on high alert as they go through daily routines.  The hope remains high Rowdi will be recovered but as of Wednesday morning, there is still no news of a miracle.  More on this story later during our series.

For people who reside or frequent the North Shore or rural Minnesota wilderness, it is all too familiar a story.  Desperate social media posts from pet owners who say their pets have gone missing and alerting everyone to be on the look-out.  Some are owners who are separated from their pets on a camping trip, others from owners who let their dog out to ‘”do their business” and never see them again,  Still others from people who turn their back for “just a minute” to quickly discover their pet has disappeared.

For every tragic story, there are of course some amazing miracles.  Here are just two.

In September of 2020, this dog, Eden, went missing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for 12 days until a family camping there found her Tuesday.  Photo: BWCA

Last fall, the owners of Eden, a black and white, 25-pound Tibetian Terrier, posted on-line that their dog had been lost on the portage between Kiskadinna and Muskeg Lakes, about 4 miles south of the Gunflint Trail and about a half mile east of Long Island Lake.  The dog was lost wearing a life preserver when she went missing. 

Her owners spent three days searching for her but they had to leave.  After 12 days, the family announced another group camping four to five miles away from where the dog went missing was able to lure her in with food.

Eden and her owners were successfully re-united.

 Quetico Park Operations Specialist Sarah Lyon and Assistant Superintendent Jason Blier were present at the family reunion at Prairie Portage Ranger Station.  Photo: Quetico Provincial Park

In another example in Quetico Provincial Park in 2016, a golden retriever mix disappeared from a family camping trip.  It turned out this beloved family pet had been lost after she had slipped into the water near Rebecca Falls and gone over the waterfall. Her family found no sign of her. They spent the next two days in the area searching, but with no such luck before finally assuming the worst and returning home — devastated — to North Carolina.

But then park staff received a call from a local outfitter. Over approximately 10 days — the outfitter explained — several of their guests had exited the park and reported hearing a dog barking, or spotting a dog in the Crooked Lake area. Just an hour after reporting the dog to park staff, another guest of the outfitter called to say he had coaxed the dog to his campsite on Lac La Croix Lake.  

An email was sent to all Canadian and US outfitters in the Quetico area to see if they’d heard of anyone reporting a missing dog. Within 20 minutes of the email being sent, an Ely, MN outfitter contacted Quetico staff, exclaiming: “I think I know who owns the dog!” Within another 20 minutes, park staff had the pup’s owners on the phone — this pup was going home.  

After a long drive back from North Carolina, park officials happily witnessed the lost dog reunite with the grateful and relieved owners.

Don't make the mistakes that lead to waiting for a miracle

From Texas to Oregon to Colorado to British Columbia, there are heart-warming stories of dogs lost in the wilderness, separated in storms and floods and other natural disasters and eventually being reunited with their owners...sometimes after weeks.  

But the lost pets that never return don’t make the headlines.  

And no pet owner should go through the stress, sense of loss and grief and desperate hope their pet will find its way home as a miracle – so the best answer is to prevent a separation from happening in the first place.

So if you are considering bringing your dog on a camping trip in a wilderness areas such as the Boundary Waters or Quetico Park or on other Forest Service or BLM lands, consider these common sense tips from REI.  

Whether you’re camping, picnicking, or spending an afternoon in the park, a zip line makes the time you spend with your pup more relaxing and fun!   Tips for camping with your dog  Photo:

Rules for car camping in developed campgrounds, from Forest Service and BLM lands to national and state parks, are similar. Here are the basics.

  • Your dog is your constant companion. Don’t plan to leave your pup at camp alone when you embark for that day hike, whether tied up at camp or kept inside the tent or car. It’s not only potentially disruptive for other campers, it could also endanger your canine companion. Weather can change fast, wildlife can wander through or other unforeseen circumstances could arise in your absence.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when at camp. Temptation abounds for your dog in the outdoors, from the tempting aroma of your neighbor’s sizzling steaks to the scurrying squirrels that would be perfect for a good chase. That’s why campgrounds nearly universally require that dogs remain on leashes of no longer than 6 feet. It’s probably worth brushing up on your “leave it” command too, just in case.
  • Use pick-up bags. Apply leave-no-trace ethics to your dogs. With more people appreciating the outdoors with their dogs, there’s more dog waste in the woods. Unfortunately, it can hurt the environment: The City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks cites soil and water contamination from bacteria and parasites and the spread of noxious weeds as reasons to include pick-up bags in your kit.
  • Try co-sleeping. Given there’s likely wildlife roaming in the night, rules usually require that dogs sleep with you either in the car or in your tent. The last thing you want is your pup encountering a skunk or a coyote. Sleeping with you will keep them safe, and hopefully quiet. Sleeping gear for dogs can make the experience comfy and warm for all.
  • Only bring food out during meals. Leaving kibble out teaches other wildlife that campgrounds are tasty places to hang out. For nibblers, use a bowl that closes at the top like the Quencher Cinch Top to save leftovers in your car between munching.
  • Savor the time together. 
At Boreal Community Media, we are all hoping and praying another miracle will happen for Rowdi and its owners.  But remember the lessons and take extra precautions when you are out and about with your four legged best friend in the wilderness.

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